The parking lot of a shopping mall in Biloxi, Mississippi, was packed with young blacks in town for an event called Black Spring Break. Suddenly, a shout went up from several male voices: “There’s a white girl! There’s a white girl!”
Seconds later, the girl was under attack. The mob pressed in, hands clawed at her, and her top was ripped off. As she tried to cover up and buried her face in her hands, the crowd shouted, laughed, and jeered at her. Hands shot up in the air, some pumping fists triumphantly, others waving video cameras seeking to capture the girl’s trauma for more laughs later on.
The sordid proceedings were captured by a photographer for the Biloxi Sun-Herald, which also reported the details above. Biloxi residents who did not appreciate the “party going” spirit wrote to the Sun-Herald about other girls of both races who had their clothes torn off; of girls followed into bathrooms by men with video cameras; of public stripping and sexual acts. A woman described a frantic call from her 19-year-old daughter stuck in traffic by “party goers”:
They were exposing themselves and videotaping her reaction to it. Groups of party-goers were having sex on the hoods of cars next to her . . . I asked if she could find a policeman to help her get off the highway. She said there were hundreds of policemen standing around watching.
Hateful slurs soon escalated into physical violence. Shopkeepers were robbed and threatened, and many temporarily closed their businesses. “The behavior was disgusting, obscene and deplorable,” said Biloxi’s insensitive Mayor A.J. Holloway. But the real problem with this unreported scandal—or with the riot in Los Angeles in the aftermath of the Lakers’ June victory—is not so much the event itself but that we are not free to discuss it openly. Any attempt to do so invites the charge of “racism.”
The cult of minority victimology crossed the Atlantic a long time ago, with Tony Blair’s Britain leading the way: When Britain’s own version of the “partying” at Biloxi takes place—once a year at Notting Hill carnival or every Saturday night in Brixton—the police are expected to act as social workers and therapists. But egregious “hate crimes” barely merit five lines of a Reuters dispatch (June 7) when the targets do not belong to a recognized category of victims:
British tourism chiefs have apologized to a group of German teenagers on a school trip who say they were stoned and called Nazis by English children. The 44-strong school party from Berlin was visiting Marazion in the western English county of Cornwall when the alleged attack took place. Teacher Gabbi Muller was quoted as saying that the English children were encouraged by their parents to throw stones and water bombs.
One can only speculate what the media reaction would have been had those English children stoned and insulted a busload of visiting teenagers from southeast Washington, D.C. At least now we know that Germans do not belong on Britain’s Ust of protected species. Being European, they are deemed fair game.
We return to the Biloxi Sun-Herald for our next story—also about race, but with a different message. On June 22, the paper carried a feature about black Confederate soldiers and their descendants who remain faithful to Dixie. The accompanying picture had a self-explanatory caption:
Harry Hervey, wearing a Confederate kepi hat, and his brother, Anthony, dressed in Confederate gray, wave the Confederate battle flag at the Eight Flags display in Gulfport. The Herveys were marching with the flags in support of the Black Confederate Soldier Foundation. They want to bring attention to the fact that blacks fought for the Confederacy too.
Mr. Hervey’s devotion to the flag began when he discovered that his great-great uncle James Hervey fought for the Confederacy and was killed at Shiloh. Further research helped Mr. Hervey discover the records of 100,000 black Confederates who fought in the war.
“I am marching for freedom,” Hervey said. “The battle flag stands for freedom and states’ rights. The U.S. flag is the flag of slavery. It flew over 100 years of slavery, and Native Americans were annihilated under that flag.” . . . Hervey sees a correlation between the past and today’s controversies over the flag. “We currently live under a psychological form of reconstruction,” he said. “Whites are made to feel guilty for sins of their ancestors, and blacks are made to feel downtrodden. This keeps all of us from communicating. The political correctness of today is killing the pride of the people.”
British political satirist Auberon Waugh agrees. Writing in London’s Daily Telegraph (June 14) on legislation to ban fox hunting, he commented that it may not be enough to limit the power of the House of Commons in order to discourage “its dreadful new members” from passing oppressive laws on matters they know nothing about. He argues that there is a link between banning fox hunts and bombing the Serbs:
Mr. Blair’s worst crime to date has been his cruel and pointless decision to wage war against the Serbs, but the blame for this must also attach to the Government and the whole House of Commons, which encouraged him to try [and now says] that the bombing had been illegal, but chose to congratulate itself on “moral grounds.” In fact Blair’s unilateral intervention was not only illegal. Its hopelessness also made it immoral.
Of all the crimes that government can commit, Waugh believes, “one of the worst is to involve itself in an unnecessary and unwinnable war, especially where there is no national interest involved.” What will these people decide to do next, he asks:
To abolish the House of Commons, on the grounds that our political classes are no longer up to the job, would be one solution, but I think the best plan would be to give them another chance. The present members should certainly be rounded up and prosecuted for involving us in their disgraceful Balkans war. When they are all safely in prison, we might hold another general election, having shown the wretched candidates what is likely to happen to them if they try to meddle with our most ancient country sport.
Back in the United States, Kosovo continues to be the victim of the mainstream media’s collective amnesia. The Boston Globe—once supportive of Clinton’s “humanitarian intervention”—was one of the few large papers to look back at the bombing campaign on the first anniversary of its ending (June 20):
[W]hat does it reveal about this nation if we can engage in such massive violence and then forget about it without follow-up efforts to measure what was actually done against what was said? Did Operation Allied Force achieve its goals? Was it moral? Or even practical? In this political season, has anyone asked Al Gore or George W. Bush what they learned from the NATO air war? Or whether they would embark on such a course again? And what of us citizens? What do we say now about the mayhem of which we were sponsors?
Such questions are especially pertinent in light of a damning report issued by Amnesty International, charging NATO with having committed war crimes:
[A] campaign of ethnic cleansing has continued in Kosovo unabated since last June with nary a hint of humanitarian protest—only now it is Serbs being cleansed by Kosovar Albanians, whose vengeful hatred was exacerbated by the war . . . the NATO air war, having criminally killed civilians , having elevated the protection of warriors above that of children, having preferred violence over authentic diplomacy, having enabled ethnic cleansing instead of halting it, having strengthened Milosevic rather than toppling him, having alienated Russia at the worst time, having through all of this dulled the conscience of the West-the NATO war was even more unjust than its fiercest critics thought.
The fallout of that war will be with Europe for years to come. Milan’s Corriere della sera carried a typical story on June 8 about the dramatic rescue, by Italian police special forces, of a 15-year-old girl who had been kidnapped by an Albanian gang and was being held for ransom in Turin. Such items are hardly news in Italy, Spain, Britain, or Greece, but they somehow don’t make it into the press of the land of the free. The same applies in cases which evoke Salman Rushdie’s cause célèbre—especially if they make a Middle Eastern client state look bad (Reuters, June 18):
An Egyptian writer on trial for atheism and blasphemy against Islam rooted his defence in the right to free speech. “I have an opinion and I expressed my opinion in these books,” Salaheddin Mohsen, in detention since April, told a state security court. . . . Prosecutors put him on trial after he admitted . . . this year that he did not believe in Islam . . . Mohsen is charged with “using religion to promote, by writing, extremist ideas to denigrate the Islamic religion, provoke strife and damage national unity.” The trial is the first of its kind since Egypt’s top appeals court pronounced Cairo University professor Nasr Abu Zeid an apostate on the basis of his writings in 1996 and forcibly divorced him from his Moslem wife.
Some of “secular” Egypt’s neighbors are busy with less lofty pursuits. The Independent of London (June 23) reports that money laundering has reached colossal proportions in Israel, “securing its status as one of the world’s leading money laundries.” The paper states that gangsters from Russia take advantage of money transfer laws aimed at attracting Jewish people to the country:
The businessman Gregory Lerner notoriously admitted defrauding Russian banks of $48 [million], which he used to try to open a bank in Israel. He was fined $5 [million] not for bringing in stolen money but for local bribery and fraud. Banking or spending the profits of illicit offshore enterprises has not been illegal in Israel, although moves are afoot to change this. For this reason, Israel has been considered a launderer’s paradise. Established as a safehaven for the Jews, the country has not asked many questions about their riches.
Eat your heart out, Switzerland: “not asking too many questions” has cost you dearly. Perhaps one day, the Russian government will sue Israeli banks for the many billions stolen from their rightful owners—and invoke the recent Swiss precedent.